It was about time we set foot in a small country somewhere on the border between Europe and Asia. A little country, which lies on the other side of the Black Sea. A piece of land famous for the beauty of its nature and the interesting people with rich history. Georgia. Welcome to the country of unexpected beauty and pleasant surprises!
What can you expect from Georgia?
Let the answer be the following video from our journey from the Kutaisi airport to the city itself.
The first thing we experienced when we arrived at the airport in Kutaisi (second biggest city) was a mild cultural shock.
The difference between the polite Ukrainian taxi drivers and their Georgian colleagues was that the latter burst into your personal space and refuse to let you go easily. We, typically confident, glared at them and showed how much they annoy us, because we were in a hurry for the rent-a-car office. All good, but there was no such office. A polite lady at the tourist information center told us we have to get to the city Kutaisi. We bargained and an old man charmed us with his pleasant Russian and we agreed to let him drive us. We gave him the business card of the rental company, but he still had to stop 4 times to ask for directions and he even had the gall to charge us for it.
The journey with natural air conditioning and playful Georgian music was unforgettable. In Kutaisi we waited at traffic lights and the smell of exhaust and the heat were starting to grate on us… we arrived. At the rental office we even managed to find a man who spoke a word or two of English and things started to look promising. We rented a scratched Opel but after 4 days on the Georgian roads we started thinking that it would have been better to get a truck. Our gas tank was almost empty and we had two partial maps of the country when we headed for the capital. Our plan was to stop on the way at interesting places and then reach Tbilisi in the evening.
Not only the air conditioning wasn’t working, but the car was about to overheat so we enjoyed natural breeze and a draught during most of the trip. Until we reached the first church we were nicely sweaty and we needed to go to the toilet, but we didn’t manage to. We only nodded at the priest and decided to look for places with a toilet and cool drinks more carefully. A pity there weren’t many of those.
Georgia has beautiful nature.
In the beginning we were impressed by the brown and grey rivers, whose real names we have forgotten. We remember them in Georgian but we shouldn’t strain ourselves. Beautiful letters and unintelligible language.
The locals are true masters of the Russian language. In the end we were hard pressed to speak it ourselves in order to be understood. Their mastery was questionable since they mistook Bulgarian for Russian. It is possible that they are more broad-minded and could sense the subtle difference. We were often taken for Russians or Polish. All in all, the Georgians are kind and ready to help.
The kingdom of multilingualism was Borjomi.
We are driving on a meandering road between green hills and enormous mountains and we are entranced. According to the map we are close, we must be about to enter the town. Trapped between two massive mountainsides with a river below is the resort town Borjomi. The most famous mineral water in the country is bottled there. It was served to us everywhere in Georgia, but not in Borjomi itself. Water production and trade is marked by intricate politics.
We are looking for the hotel in Borjomi, road signs- none.
We are driving and looking around when at some point we find out that the town has ended and we are traveling in the next one. We turn back to the center. We see a crowd as something like a bus station. They send me to do the asking around since I’m all smiles. I don’t bother with English. We are on our third day in Georgia and we already know that the language is useless here.
I start the conversation in Bulgarian with the most convincing Russian accent possible, but nobody has heard of our hotel. A granny takes my problem to heart and heads somewhere, I follow. We enter the bus station but nobody seems to know anything. The hotel is booked from booking.com, it should exist. In the end the granny takes me to a woman, watching from her window. The woman addresses me with “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”. I am excited, we are switching to my favorite language and we start the conversation. It turned out she didn’t know of our hotel, either, but she recommended another.
Glad that I had the opportunity to practice my German (thank God I went to Georgia so I could speak a bit of German) I go back to the car and tell them to drive to the tourist office in the center. Before that a grandpa tried to sell the information about the location of the hotel for a drive home. We are polite, but not that much. At the office we got directions (I am almost sure a Polish guy helped us, but after a consultation with specialists we decided that he could’ve been Russian) and we embarked on an off-road climb towards the hotel.
There we go lost again and asked a passer-by for directions. When we heard us saying “Ciao” (used in Bulgarian for “bye”) he bombarded us with his Italian vocabulary: bambini, Adriano Celentano and so on. We reached the hotel before dark which was an achievement. We headed for the white bridge and the town park. We were enriched linguistically and exhausted by the journey so we had no choice but to try the beer of Borjomi and breathe in the clearest mountain air under the sound of The Beatles.
The pleasant mountain cool and the music weren’t the only things to calm out souls.
Even though the town is small, the people of Borjomi showed themselves as bright and determined to fight for what they believe in. The nature is incredible. The most beautiful thing was the view from the old Ferris wheel on the top of one hill. You could see the sleepy town and the endless green hills.
Also, we can’t complain about their food.
It turned out a dinner was included in our hotel stay. We decided to see what it was and to go later to seek an interesting pub. However, there was no need, we were very pleased and we stuffed ourselves with local specialties.
This article was brought to you in English by Marta Petrova.
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